October. It has gone quickly, leaving the branches bare.
I travelled across the country to see a friend, blew out the candles on my birthday cake and edited, edited, edited my middle-grade manuscript. It is coming to six months since I began this work and the changes it has seen in that time are ginormous. There is no way to explain to someone who hasn’t written a story of this size how much it takes to make it even vaguely like those things you see on the bookshelf.
This also marks the first full month of GrasmereBulletJournal – a blog about literature, bullet-journalling, and stationery. I began the blog in consultation with The Wordsworth Trust, who loved the idea of Dorothy Wordsworth as a bullet-journaller. I have translated parts of Dorothy Wordsworth’s journals into bullet-journal form, and this is the journal at the centre of the blog. The first month has given me new experiences – such as making a YouTube video – and put me in touch with wider networks.
So begin the dark nights and the countdown to Christmas. Snuggle up, find time for yourself and decide what is really important to you rather than being swept along by the festive-tide.
Let me know what you’ve been up to this month – I love hearing from my followers.
We’d be dead without dung beetles
Really. MG Leonard told me and she is the undisputed queen of beetles.
It was a pleasure to get to an author talk with my friend Christina, especially because our long talks about children’s literature are a special part of our friendship. My visit to the South East coincided with the Guildford Book Festival, so we booked tickets to see M.G. Leonard.
What a fabulously interesting morning.
Leonard’s trilogy is about a group of children who befriend genetically-enhanced beetles and uncover the plot of fashionista and scientist Lucretia Cutter. One of Leonard’s early thoughts was that there were no books in which beetles were the heroes. We think of insect life as creepy and other, when in fact our planet wouldn’t be the same without beetles.
Take the dung beetle. By gathering rolling dung into balls, burying it underground and feeding on it, dung beetles take it away from the surface of the environment. Without them, there would be far more parasites, and large areas would be inhabitable.
This is one of the true joys of children’s literature – it teaches us so many interesting things about our world.
Lights, Camera, YouTube
I am camera-shy. Painfully so. A good picture emerges every six or eight years but mostly when I see a camera I stop acting naturally.
But you know what? I took part in a YouTube video.
I filmed this with the team at The Wordsworth Trust, to promote the GrasmereBulletJournal blog and the bullet journalling station which we’ve created at the museum. The whole experience has been tremendous and the video explains everything I would have hoped.
New experiences are pivotal – they give us a taste of other disciplines and encourage us to think more widely about what we can do. I have learned so much about other social media over the past two years and have totally embraced content-creation. It was amazing to learn about creating for YouTube.
How to make a hedgehog from an information booklet
There has been lots of discussion on the Twittersphere about what should happen to old proofs. Several weeks ago I came to the conclusion that the proofs I didn’t want to keep were perfect for crafting.
Following on from that, my friend and I checked into her local library for a session on paper folding.
Without scissors, without anything other than folding, I turned an information booklet into a hedgehog. It certainly took patience – there were a lot of pages to fold and the action was the same every time – but it was a lovely craft for a Saturday morning. Two googly-eyes later and my hedgehog came to life. His name is Harold and he lives on my shelves.
Papercrafting is a brilliant solution to the proof question – so brilliant that I hope to feature some posts in the run-up to Christmas.
CS Lewis never considered the mental health of his characters
You’re eleven years old. World War Two is raging around you, so you’re sent to live with a total stranger. All that is traumatic enough. While playing with your siblings, you find yourself trapped in another world. A world which is also at war, and by the way, only you and your siblings can end that war. Although you solve the war, the door to your own world is shut, so the only option is to stay in that realm and grow into an adult.
Then suddenly you are eleven years old again. The Blitz is still very real.
The characters in The Chronicles Of Narnia showed unswerving loyalty to this other world. Once a King or Queen in Narnia, always a King or Queen. The exception was Susan Pevensie, a character derided as shallow and vain.
This month I read The Light Between Worlds, a book which takes up the same narrative through different characters, and considers the impact such an experience might really have on different people. Susan is vindicated as the one who was able to adjust back to her past reality.
I will always love Narnia, but the questions posed by The Light Between Worlds are valid. I wonder whether CS Lewis imagined how this experience might affect his characters? The assumption that they would become good, loyal Narnians never considered the impact this would have on their other lives.
What have you been up to this October? Let me know in the comments below.